This is a sequel to a previous post called ‘taking the p*ss’
As explained in that post we were regularly mopping out the nursery toilets due to the carelessness, inexperience and sheer exuberance of the children we worked with. After the previous incident we were rightly suspicious of all the boys and tried to monitor their comings and goings to identify the mysterious floor wetter.
We had no luck for several weeks, in spite of our detailed surveillance operation, and were fed up with having to swab the decks at regular intervals. It gradually dawned on us that, unlikely as it may seem, it might be the girls!
A new observation regime was implemented that involved checking every child in and out of the loo (without impeding their dignity, self-respect or human rights obviously.)
The result, when it came was most unexpected. My nursery nurse tracked three girls, all bestest of best friends, into the toilet cubicles. Once in they all piled into the same cubicle and tried to use the same toilet simultaneously. The result was as wet and messy as you would expect.
Mystery solved, now we just had to figure out how to stop them doing it without upsetting the delicate balance of their friendship.
What did you and your best friend used to get up to – and is it repeatable?
In my previous post I alluded to the fact that my own childhood may not have been as Health and Safety approved as the one that I would wish for my own children. In fact, it was downright dangerous, including such joys as playing on the railway track, climbing up stuff, jumping off stuff and setting things on fire to name but a few.
I am certain this was all completely standard fare for children growing up in the 60s and 70s, it was a time of reckless abandon and anything goes. If you know this to be wrong please don’t tell me as it would mean that my parents were trying to get rid of me, and I am way too delicate for that sort of revelation.
Anyway, it brought forth a wave of nostalgia for the long gone days of primary school. (Actually, they are not gone as I have spent all my working life in primary schools, but you get the idea.) The marbles, the Top Trump cards, Spangles, Hopscotch, fist fights and the handful of chews from the newsagents across the road. These are all standard school memories that most people reading this will be nodding at and mouthing silently to themselves as they read. (At least those in the UK, it never fails to surprise me how far the internet reaches. For those not from here, I hope it is a window into our lives and culture on this tiny island)
But some of the things I remember are not necessarily on everybody’s list of reminiscences. Some of them are so specific to my own childhood that I am not sure if I even imagined them. I am sharing them in this post in the hope that putting them in writing will turn them back into the real things they once were. So, in no particular order:
- Crawling under the office Portakabin for a dare. Exactly what it sounds like, we would crawl into the filthy, dark gap under the office hut and see if we could get to the far side and wave to our friends through the mesh cover.
- Drinking fountain rainbows. If the teacher left the art materials unattended for more than 5 milliseconds the paint blocks would be pocketed. Bits of these could then be broken off and dropped into the top of the drinking fountain, producing coloured water for our delight and entertainment.
- Peeing up the wall. Lining up in the boys toilet and seeing who could urinate highest up the wall. The aspiration was to be able to pee right over the top and into the girls toilets, although nobody ever did. I was only ever average at this.
- Getting brand new rulers. This was in February 1971, it only really affected people who were in the UK when it went decimal. As children it was our only indication that anything had changed, well that and we all thought we were rich when we started to accumulate coins that we later realized no longer had any monetary value.
- Trying to use the footballs to break the light fitting in indoor PE. This is quite self-explanatory.
These are some of the things that made my childhood unique and special. I am sure there are other people who loved school as much as I did and have their own precious (?) memories. What are they? What did you do when you were young and foolish – and did you enjoy it?
One day last summer I went for a walk along the seafront in the town I grew up in. As we walked along I reminisced about the time I had spent there as a child and the things I had got up to;
I described, in detail, a game we played that involved jumping into the sea in a narrow channel where the tide rips through at great speed. We would see how far down the beach we got swooshed before we could get back out.
“Didn’t they have the red flags then Dad?”
“Er…yes, but we took no notice because it was such fun.”
I went on to describe how we would take a running jump from the sea wall onto the sand 15 feet below, seeing who could perform the most exciting aerial acrobatics before landing in a heap on the beach.
“Didn’t you used to get hurt though?”
“Er…only sometimes, and never too badly.”
We got to the cliffs at the end of the beach. We used to wait until the tide was high enough, climb up and leap off into the water in places free from rocks. I thought about telling the kids we didn’t used to cycle this far, but knowing that they can sense a lie I came clean.
“Wasn’t that dangerous?”
“Yes, and I expressly forbid you guys to do that or anything like it.”
I am, of course, a hypocrite.
It was not without a little pride, mixed with parental concern, when the first photos my son messaged us from university were of the injuries he got bombing his new local hills on his skateboard. Play safe – but do play.
Whilst writing my previous post I was reminded of another incident from the long ago time when inspectors were people you knew.
This time it was not my class, it was my wife’s class of 5 and 6 year olds who were being visited by our local Early Years inspector. These inspections were always kind of a big deal as the inspector was a nationally recognised authority on Early Years education and nobody wanted to meet her disapproval.
However, the visit went well, the children were engaged meaningfully, the session went smoothly and the staff all knew what they were supposed to be doing – so far so good. Then it was time for the chat with the teacher after the premises and people had been examined.
Had I mentioned that the inspector was quite a large lady? What we in Nursery circles call a Mrs Comfylap.
My wife asked one of the children if they could bring over a chair for the inspector to sit on please.
The child looked at the inspector, raised an eyebrow, looked back and announced in a loud clear voice;
“I think she’ll need two miss!”